Move over Davos and the snowy Swiss Alps. Enter a barren, but sun-drenched Greek island.
Greece is looking to unseat Davos as the king of hosting big-thinking global summits, where the rich and powerful come each year to discuss weighty world matters in the winter wonderland that is Switzerland.
Instead, cash-strapped Greece, desperate for foreign investment, wants similar chief executives, business leaders and policymakers to travel to the tiny Greek island of Aegiali to shape world thinking on the arts and philosophy in the summer playground that is Greece.
“It’s a plan we have been working on for months and we aim to start looking for investors soon,” a senior Greek finance ministry official was quoted as saying by the London Times newspaper Tuesday.
The summer summit idea was first floated in September by Greece’s left-wing Syriza party before its re-election. But many Greeks dismissed it at the time as simply a campaign promise never to be realized, the Times reported from the Greek capital.
But Greece’s deputy finance minister, Dimitris Mardas, confirmed over the weekend that the summer Davos project was still plowing ahead.
“The idea is for this (Aegiali island) to become a center for the arts and philosophy, hosting international conferences and meetings of global leaders, on a par with the World Economic Forum at Davos,” Mardas told an Athens television channel, the paper reported.
Cash-hungry Greece will ask countries wanting to send delegates to the conference to build the center needed, however.
Mardas told the television channel he was going to send out invitations to all U.N. member states offering each country the opportunity “to build its own quarter of luxury, forming a cluster of conference buildings on the isle.”
Greek legend has it that the barren Greek island of Aegiali was once the home of hundreds of Greek prisoners of ancient Persia. Now, however, rabbits, sheep and goats seem to be the main inhabitants.
The World Economic Forum defines itself as the leading international organization for public-private cooperation. Its says on its Web site that it “engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.”
Some 2,000 multi-millionaires and other business and political leaders, influential executives, bankers and policymakers attend the yearly World Economic Forum at Davos, paying some $40,000 each to talk, schmooze, network and attend big-thought meetings during the snowy Swiss winter.
“There’s no reason why we can’t attract similar crowds for an audience focused on the arts and philosophy,” the Greek finance minister was quoted by the London paper as saying.
Deane reported from London.